TRC Classic Freedom – Classic with class
It’s not a regular review but rather a tale of a knife. I’ve been using TRC Classic Freedom for about two years now. First, the standard version (satin blade, black handle), which I changed early this year to the so-called biohazard variant – a limited edition with cool looking post-heat-treating “Apocalyptic” finish and natural canvas micarta scales. And very recently, I tried a full flat grind (FFG) variant too, to complete my Classic Freedom experience, which I’d like to share with you now.
Small digress first:
It was late July a couple of years ago. I was with my family in the wild forest-covered Bieszczady Mountains, the South-East corner of Poland, the ending point of the European Union. My daughter, with a small group of friends and a guide, went horse riding to enjoy a sunset in the mountains. Then a sudden storm came out of nowhere. When the group returned an hour later, they were all drenched to the core. The quick summer storm was gone soon after. But in the meantime, I managed to start a bonfire so they could warm their hands and dry their clothes. I used just what I had on me — a compact sub-4″ fixed blade and ferrocerium firestarter. It took me like 5 minutes to get the fire burning. I didn’t have to look for a hatchet, saw, matches, tinder etc., which would probably take longer alone. It’s always good to have basic tools on you and ready when staying in the backcountry. And a sharp fixed blade, capable of feather stick carving, is one of them.
TRC Classic Freedom – Genesis
I’m an adventurer at heart, and a good knife has been an essential part of my kit since I was ten and joined the Boy Scouts. These days when I’m in true wilderness, I like the feeling of a full-size knife on my belt.
But there are times when carrying a 6-inch blade is an apparent overkill, or rather overweight – like mountaineering above a tree line. I hear you saying, “that’s why we have folders” – but in the remote backcountry, you just can’t beat the reliability of a good old fixed blade.
And here it comes, a hidden gem of the TRC lineup: the Classic Freedom. A knife small enough to carry 24/7 but still reliable as an outdoor cutting tool.
The anatomy of a knife
Close your eyes and imagine a generic small fixed blade – most people would imagine something similar to the knife we’re discussing here. A total length of 8.1 inches, the blade is 3.6 inches and made of roughly 0.120″ stock m390 steel (saber grind). At about 3.5 ounces, this knife can hardly be noticed on a belt or in a backpack.
The Classic Freedom’s shape is as classic as a knife can get – straight lines, drop point blade, contoured and fluted full tang puukko-shaped handle. It’s undoubtedly a modern design, but with a visible Scandinavian influence.
It’s available with various finishes (satin, apocalyptic) and two different grinds (saber or full flat grind), so you can pick your preferred option. The full flat version is a bit more slicey than the naturally tougher saber grind, but both are thin enough to be great cutters.
I measured both versions: the saber ground variant is precisely 2.70mm and 104g, but my FFG (full flat grind) is 3.20mm at the spine and weighs 110g. That is not an inconsistency but a conscious decision. I talked to Andrius (TRC founder), and they make the FFG slightly thicker on purpose so that the lateral strength is similar for both variants.
If you’re into knives, you must have heard about m390 steel. Bohler (maker of m390) optimized it for cutting and slicing – it is a very aggressive cutter and holds that keen edge incredibly well. It’s fully stainless too.
The toughness of m390 is good, but it’s not as tough as CPM-3V or some high-carbon tool steels. But you don’t use such a thin blade (2.70mm) for chopping or heavy batoning anyway. Sure, it can take some abuse – just don’t expect the Classic Freedom to be as tough as TRC’s Mille Cuori in Vanadis 4 Extra.
Still, in my opinion, m390 for the Classic Freedom is one of the best choices. If you stick to cutting through wood, meat, rope etc., this knife will keep working on and on.
Use common sense and avoid chopping bricks or nails – and your Classic will hold an edge for weeks of frequent use. Sharpening is not an issue on diamond hones. But forget about your natural stones – m390 is too hard for them.
The Classic Freedom comes with either a simple leather sheath or a black kydex one with a hypalon belt loop. TRC makes some of the finest kydex sheaths on the market, with enough space between the blade and kydex to prevent easy blade scratching and very crisp action.
I’ve been making kydex sheaths for 15 years now, so I can name a good sheath when I see one. Both sheath options are functional, but I’m a kydex believer, so my choice was obvious. Naturally, I made my sheaths as well and ended up with four kydex carry options for my Classic Freedom: a pocket sheath with a UltiClip, a Tek-Lok sheath for high-ride, a neck/backpack sheath, and also a drop-loop one for classic belt carry.
Some practical remarks, aka “Use your sh#t!”
I never go outdoors without a knife – then I use it darn hard! I don’t baby my gear, and it’s there to take care of me, not vice versa. I’ve used the Classic Freedom (mostly the saber grind version) for two years now, predominantly in the mountains as it’s lightweight enough to be carried everywhere and every time, also on more vertical adventures – no excuses.
For the most part, it was simply my mountain shelter or camp kitchen knife, and I used it for virtually anything there. I was slicing bread, cleaning fish and meat, chopping vegetables, peeling fruits, crushing garlic, and more. It was my cutter, slicer, spreader – you name it.
It shines at food prep with just 2.7mm thickness and a fine cutting edge. Sometimes a longer blade would be welcome (like TRC This Is Freedom), but a longer knife also comes with a weight penalty – and that’s not something you want when mountaineering.
Despite the blade being thinner than on full-size TRC knives, it’s still a capable lightweight bushcraft knife. There was a reason why Mors Kochanski was carrying a Mora Classic for years as his EDC knife – and Freedom Classic is a very similar size.
In addition, the saber grind offers sufficient cross-section strength to put it to relatively hard use. Still, it carves well, with minimal effort. But if that’s not slicey enough for you – get the FFG version.
The micarta handle has a well-defined fluted texture on it with a polished surface finishing. It’s grippy enough for all utility jobs, fills the fist nicely, and doesn’t cause any palm fatigue, even during prolonged use.
There is a subtle grip difference between the regular Classic Freedom and the limited‚ Virus’ apocalyptic variant. The latter has a rougher surface finish on the micarta from sandblasting (added as a final finishing stage) and thumb-ramp jimping. It makes the knife slightly more grippy, primarily when wet.
Still, I’ve used regular Classic Freedom and its bigger brother “This Is Freedom” (with the same fluted/polished handle) quite extensively as a fishing knife.
I didn’t experience any issues with the grip being too slippery. Moreover, that glossy finish looks more classy, and a non-porous surface is easier to keep tidy (especially after cleaning fresh catch).
There’s an interesting point regarding fire-starting capabilities, as it depends on the blade finish variant. The satin-finished version has a sharp edge between the flats and a slightly rounded spine, which works like a regular 90-deg spine. So can be used to scrape fatwood and birch bark, plus it throws nice sparks from a ferrocerium rod.
This is not the case with the cool-looking “Apocalyptic” versions. The post-hardening applied surface finish makes the spine edge not as sharp as on a satin blade.
This might be a decisive factor for some, but for others (like me), not really. Just take a BIC lighter or a dedicated ferrocerium striker. I have no problem with that – it is my conscious decision for a knife used in some specific conditions. It’s not a survival knife, but a camp/kitchen tool to be used in the mountains (and my MSR Pocket Rocket gas stove has a built-in spark device, anyhow). So do your math and decide.
Pay once, cry once
Depending on the variant, 285/305 EUR is certainly not a budget option for a compact personal fixed blade. However, if you’re able to spend this kind of money on a knife you’d get a top-tier cutting tool of the highest quality.
And that’s not just me saying this – I’ve never met anyone who’d be not impressed with the flawless quality of TRC-made knives. The TRC guys do not cut corners and do not agree on any compromise – it’s as good as a knife can be, believe me – you won’t be disappointed, especially from a fit and finish perspective.
Sure, multiple quality knife options are available these days for any budget. I’ve used a lot of moderately priced knives too. But, if all you need is to take your bushcraft project from point A to point B, you can find more budget-friendly options, like the Mora Classic. Remember, it’s skills that really count, not gear. “The more you know, the less you carry” – it’s particularly true with knife choice.
However, if fit, finish, and high-end materials matter to you too – the TRC Classic Freedom might be the edged tool you’re looking for as your next-level personal outdoor knife. It not only looks classy but also works like a champ! It’s one of the few genuinely flawless options for a lightweight, outdoor fixed-blade knife.